Best Hill Stations In India
Hill stations are one of the best places to beat the heat ! And in a country like India, which mostly boasts of a tropical climate, one doesn’t really need a reason to take off to the hills and valleys to cool off.
India is thankfully blessed with a variety of climatic regions, ranging from hot and humid in the south to temperate and high-altitude, chilly weather in the northern Himalayas, where the magnificent mountainous regions go white in winter with continuous snowfall. The Thar Desert and the Himalayas play a major role in controlling the country’s climatic conditions, with the former attracting moisture-laden southwest monsoon winds that deliver most of India’s rainfall between June and October and the latter blocking out the bitter cold Central Asian winds and creating a warmer environment in most of the Indian subcontinent as compared to the other locations at similar latitudes.
Being blessed with diverse geography or varied topography, India has a variety of hill stations to choose from depending on the time and climate one finds most favourable. Many states in India are endowed with some picturesque and unforgettable hill-stations and Indians are more or less, spoilt for choice. As the saying goes ‘One man’s food is another man’s poison!’ and hence it becomes very difficult to justify why one hill station is better than the other. Instead we have listed out some of the best hill stations in the various regions of India where one can enjoy!
1 – Jammu & Kashmir
‘A little bit of heaven on earth’…….this is the feeling one gets after witnessing the natural beauty of this state in northern India. Jammu & Kashmir is located mostly in the Himalayan mountains and shares borders with the states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab to the south. It consists of three regions: Jammu, the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh. Srinagar is the summer capital, and Jammu is the winter capital.
The Kashmir valley is famous for its spellbinding mountainous landscape and Jammu’s numerous shrines attract humungous crowds of Hindu pilgrims every year. Ladakh, with it’s isolated and beautiful mountain terrain, is popular for propagating Buddhist culture. In fact, it has also come to be known as “Little Tibet”. Given the abundant shrines and monasteries in these regions, they have become well-known as both pilgrimage and tourism destinations.
Srinagar, is most enticing with its splendid natural beauty, historic gardens and unique mosques. Pahalgam is another picture perfect destination in this state blessed with gurgling rivers and snow peaks all around. Gulmarg, characterized as one of the most popular ski resort destinations in India, shows off the world’s highest green golf course and is spellbinding during summer with its Pine forests and vivid flora.
2 – Himachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh is a northern Indian, mountainous state in the western Himalayas. It is replete with picturesque mountain towns and resorts and is known for its natural environment, hill stations, and temples. The state is rich with a high diversity of medicinal and aromatic plants. Owing to the widespread orchards, Himachal is also said to be the fruit bowl of the country. Meadows and pastures beautify the hills and steep slopes. Post winter season, the hillsides and orchards are a visual delight with naturally blooming wild flowers as well as pretty cultivated ones like carnations, roses, chrysanthemums, tulips etc. The state government has made every effort to present Himachal Pradesh as the flower basket of the world. The Great Himalayan National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Pin Valley National Park are the national Parks located in the state. The state also has 30 wildlife sanctuaries and 3 conservation reserves. Besides all of this, the region is also well known for its trekking, climbing and skiing areas. And thus, this mountainous state with its Himalayan landscapes attracts tourists from all over the world.
Hill stations like Shimla, Manali, Dalhousie, Chamba, Dharamshala and Kullu are popular destinations for both domestic and foreign tourists. The state has abundant pilgrimage centres with notable Hindu temples like Chamunda Devi Temple, Naina Devi Temple and plenty more. Hence, this state is also known as “Dev Bhoomi” (literally meaning Land of Gods) due to its reference in the holy books and presence of large number of historical temples in the state. While these entrancing, scenic locales are well-known for an idyllic holiday, they are also known for its adventure tourism activities like ice skating, paragliding, rafting, skiing, boating, trekking, horse riding and fishing in different parts in the state. A recognized destination for adventure seekers, the Spiti Valley in Lahaul & Spiti District is situated at an altitude of over 3000 metres with its picturesque landscapes and has some of the oldest Buddhist Monasteries in Asia. Bir Billing is acclaimed for aero sports in Himachal and considered as best for paragliding. Mountain biking, trekking to tribal villages and visiting Buddhist monasteries are other activities to indulge in here.
3 – Uttarakhand
Mountains, hills and valleys again…….but spending time in the beautiful environs of this enchanting state is an experience to cherish. Uttarakhand, formerly known as Uttaranchal, is a state in the northern part of India. It is often referred to as Devbhumi (literally “Land of the Gods”) due to many Hindu temples and pilgrimage centres found throughout the state. About 86% of Uttarakhand is mountainous with high Himalayan peaks and glaciers and 65% is covered by forest which makes it one of the most invigorating and rejuvenating destinations. Blessed with a diversity of flora and fauna, Uttarakhand is home to a rare species of plants and animals, many of which are protected by sanctuaries and reserves.
Some of the most popular hill stations visited in this state are Nainital, Landsdowne, Kausani, Auli and Mussoorie amongst others…… all picturesque and breathtaking. Also famous in this state are the National parks which include the Jim Corbett National Park (the oldest national park of India) at Ramnagar in Nainital District and Valley of Flowers National Park and Nanda Devi National Park in Chamoli District, which together are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
4 – Kerala
While we earlier spoke of the “ Land of the Gods” in the north of India, Kerala is well known as “God’s Own Country”! Situated in South India on the Malabar Coast, Kerala is one of the prominent tourist destinations of India, with something to please every type of traveller.
The comfortable houseboats in the serene and fascinating backwaters, pass through lagoons and narrow creeks, offering a wonderful view of the lush greenery and coconut groves along the banks. Also well-known for its scenic beaches, surrounded by lovely coconut groves, natural harbors, lagoons and sheltered coves, one could stretch out and laze under the shade of rows of palm trees dotting the beach or indulge in some exciting water sports like parasailing, diving, swimming, boating etc. The alluring and invigorating hill-stations of Kerala with its green forest cover, wildlife sanctuaries, breathtaking waterfalls and aromatic spice plantations, offer wonderful opportunities for sight-seeing, nature walks, mountaineering and wildlife treks. Kerala is also renowned for its delectable cuisine and the ancient science of Ayurveda (one of the oldest forms of traditional medicine in the world, which focuses on a holistic approach to wellbeing). Important Ayurvedic techniques include yoga, meditation, diet, massage and the application of oils which is offered at several resorts and Ayurveda centres across Kerala.
Some of the most popular hill stations in Kerala include Munnar, Wayanad, Idukki, Thekkady, Athirapally and Mattupetty amongst others.
5 – Maharashtra
Maharashtra is a state in the western region of India and has a long coastline along the Arabian Sea which borders the state on the west. The Deccan plateau which is a more notable feature of this state is separated from this Konkan coastline by the ‘Ghats’ which are a succession of steep hills, periodically split by narrow roads. Most of the famous hill stations of the state are at the Ghats, also known as the Western Ghats or the Sahyadri Mountain range. Many tranquil villages and unexplored hill-stations nestle amongst these lush green hills and valleys.
The state has three game reserves, as well as several national parks and bird sanctuaries and some of the best hill stations like Khandala-Lonavla, Mahabaleshwar, Panchgani, Matheran, Bhandardhara and Amboli. All are well-known for its beautiful, misty, green rolling hills, waterfalls and several interesting forts.
6 – Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu, a state in Southern India, has its own attractions. The cool and pleasant weather is a big draw and the lush beautiful greenery and amazing wildlife only add to the charm of destinations here. The enchanting hill stations beautified with carpets of green, scenic waterfalls and expansive tea and coffee gardens with its revitalizing weather offer an escape from the suffocating, polluted, hectic bustle of nearby city life.
Coonoor, Kodaikanal, Yelagiri, Yercaud, Ooty, Doddabetta, Sirumalai and Kolli Hills are just some of the hill stations in Tamil Nadu which make for a memorable holiday.
7 – Sikkim
Sikkim is one of the most beautiful regions in the north eastern part of India. Though small, it is a place of breathtaking natural beauty, magnificent landscapes and a variety of flora and fauna. With a backdrop of the Kanchanjunga, the third highest mountain in the world, this land of hilly landscapes, Himalayan peaks and rejuvenating weather has some beautiful, must-visit hill stations. Gangtok, Pelling, Yuksom, Nathula Pass, Lachung, Lachen, Yumthang Valley, Ravangla, Namchi and Zuluk are hill stations that should definitely feature in your list of must-visit destinations.
Cradled in the Himalayan mountains, the state of Sikkim is characterised by mountainous terrain and has a lot of open monasteries, chortens, flying prayer flags and lofty stupas all giving it a tinge of spirituality and mysticism.
8 – West Bengal
West Bengal situated in the eastern region of India, spreads out from the Himalayas in the north to the Bay of Bengal in the south and exhibits some captivating landscapes and natural scenic beauty. It has a rich architectural and natural heritage and can also boast of some World Heritage Sites like the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway and the Sundarbans National Park. Neora Valley National Park, which is one of the richest biological zones in the entire Northeast, is also situated in the Kalimpong subdivision under Darjeeling District, in West Bengal.
Besides these attractions, West Bengal also has some spectacular and amazing hill stations. Darjeeling, which is world-famous on various counts, has been honoured with the distinction of being the queen of all hill stations in the nation. Mirik, Sandakfu and some lesser-explored hill stations like Lepchajagat, Kurseong, Kalimpong, Rimbick, Lava and Loleygaon are some others which are also breathtaking and slowly gaining popularity.
So choose your region, select any of the astoundingly beautiful hill stations and have an unforgettable holiday. AbhiBus offers bus services to quite a few of these hill-stations within the states. Just log onto www.abhibus.com and enter in your details of ‘Leaving from’ and ‘Going to’ to check if their buses ply on the route.
Encyclopedia Britannica, Tripcrafters, Tour My India, Trawell.In, Tamil Nadu Tourist Places, Lovedale Blogger, Holiday Rentals, uttarakhandincredible.com